Overanalysing vs Introspection

It might sound backwards, but I have experienced the most profound improvements in my life from delving into my negative thoughts and feelings. However, it did take some time to get this right.

Overanalysing vs Introspection

When a negative thought or emotion arises, we can go down two different paths: we can either think more about it or we can think less about it. This is part two of the series, and if you haven't had a chance to watch part one, I highly recommend reading that first. In part one, I focus on what happens when we choose to think less about our negative thoughts and feelings, how this can be beneficial in the form of letting go, and when it becomes unhealthy in the form of suppression. Part two is going to tackle the complete opposite end of the spectrum: why we would choose to think more about our negative thoughts and feelings.

It might sound backwards, but I have experienced the most profound improvements in my life from delving into my negative thoughts and feelings. However, it did take some time to get this right. When I first realised that I was suppressing my thoughts, my first instinct was to start analysing every inch of my thoughts and emotions, trying to fix the thinking or fix the emotions. Just like choosing to think less, it can be really beneficial, but it can also lead to problems depending on how you go about it. I'm going to explain why this happens, what goes wrong, and how to avoid it.

Important Notes

There are two important things to note when it comes to investigating your thoughts and feelings. The first is that it should never happen in the moment. When we are experiencing negative thoughts and emotions, we are not usually in a state of mind to be assessing ourselves or our situation objectively. So, noting the thoughts and feelings down to look at later is the key here.

The second thing to note is that not all thoughts and emotions require investigation. I have had a lot of success looking into my different thought patterns and emotional reactions. However, as tempting as it is to look into every single time you experience a negative thought or feeling, this is not the most helpful thing to do. In most situations, the thoughts and feelings are fleeting, and you can practice accepting that they're there and letting them go. However, the ones to investigate are when you notice patterns of thoughts or feelings. When a reaction continues to arise again and again, that is something that you want to look further into.

Root Cause Analysis

Before I discuss what happens when we take investigating too far, I want to first provide an analogy that has really helped me to shift my mindset around my negative thoughts and feelings. When a kid falls over, we don't usually want to overreact or run to their aid. Instead, we say, "You're all good, hop up," and we wait to see if it's a really bad injury or not, because the kid is looking at our reaction to determine how they react.

So, if every time we feel a negative emotion, we're hyper-focusing on it and overreacting to it and turning it into something bigger than it is, then our mind is likely to react in a bigger way. The trick is to treat your emotional reactions like they're no big deal at first to help them dissipate on their own—most often, they will. Focusing on them and dissecting them will only make them last longer. But remember, if you keep being triggered by the same things, that is when you want to start looking into it. It's like if a kid keeps tripping on the same rug over and over, you're not going to keep saying, "Hop up, you'll be all right." You're probably going to look at fixing the rug to prevent future falls... and that is the perfect analogy for getting to the root cause of your negative thoughts and feelings.


Now we know when to investigate our thoughts and feelings, but what happens when we take it too far? Getting to the root cause of an issue can be helpful, but when we take it too far, it turns into overanalysing.

Overanalysing is like micromanaging your thoughts, ruminating over and over, second-guessing, and questioning every thought to the point where it creates more negativity. Partaking in a full-blown investigation every time you have a thought is not helpful. Overanalysing can lead to more negativity because when we're investigating a thought, it feels like we're making progress. But when we believe we're making progress and then we experience another negative thought or emotion, there's resistance there. We're creating cognitive dissonance. It's not that we shouldn't analyse any of our thoughts; I have gained so much insight into my life through introspection. The key is to note things down as they happen and then try to notice patterns in the thoughts and feelings that you're having. And once you've found a pattern, then you can start looking at the root cause.

The Thinking Spectrum

The two concepts of either thinking less or thinking more are at opposite ends of the spectrum, and sometimes we can overcorrect.

So, we find ourselves experiencing a negative thought or feeling, and we decide to start thinking about it a lot, and it turns into overanalysing and creates more negativity.

So then we go the other way, and we try not to think about it, but instead of letting it go, we start suppressing those feelings and pushing them away. The important thing is trying not to go too far in either direction. To avoid this, we need to stay really conscious and intentional with our actions and learn to recognise when we might be overanalysing and when we might be suppressing.

Recognition Prompts

To practice this recognition surrounding overanalysing, you might ask yourself these questions:

  • How long have I been thinking about this?
  • Can I write this down and come back to it another time?
  • Do I feel calm in my assessment of these thoughts, or do I feel panicked?
  • How fast are the thoughts running through my mind?


The important thing is to remain self-compassionate when it comes to this process. It's okay if you find yourself overanalysing; it's okay if you find yourself suppressing thoughts. It's going to happen. The important thing is to accept that you're overanalysing, accept that you've been suppressing thoughts, and try to let that go. Be gentle with yourself and continue practicing what you've learned.

I started implementing these mindset shifts into my life, and I am a completely different person to what I used to be. It does take practice and time, but if you stick with it, you will see the benefits.